October 5, 2010

Making Out in Public – Good or Bad?

Americans don’t make out in public. I do. And every time I do, I feel like I am in Victorian England.

It’s not like I am a ho. Or an exhibitionist. I don’t have a fetish, and I am not trying to make a statement. I am simply used to expressing myself freely, and I don’t think it’s anybody’s business as long as I remain clothed, vertical and quiet. At least, as quiet as merengue coming out of the headphones of tired commuters on my uptown train. Sigh.

No, I would not do it at a reception with the royal family. I would not do it at an educational facility. I probably would not do it in a church either out of consideration for believers (I don’t think God would care). Finally, I would not do it when in doubt—it takes happiness to be able to touch another human’s lips with others present.

So I am loved. Why the dirty looks?

Supposedly, it is okay to kiss at your own wedding, with elders and children staring at you. Supposedly, it is gross to do same exact thing in a public park, on a bus or at a restaurant. Right, I can see the logic.

The collective brain tries to tell me what to do with my body. Wait. Why? What do you know about my body?

Ignorance and anger. Envy and ignorance. My dear deceived hungry spirits. Smile.

Out of curiosity, I google “making out in public”. Google comes back with “gross”, “disgusting” and “why do people do it”. “Because they are sane and probably happy, that’s why,”—I argue with the search engine.

For the sake of anthropology and out of respect for Aristotle, I try to contradict myself. I think about the time when I was in Tibet.  The tradition prescribed wearing long garments and I obeyed without fretting. For months, I saw no bare human legs with the exception of my own. But that’s a foreign tradition–and besides, Tibet is more sexually liberated than Germany. Nowhere in the world have I seen such a relaxed attitude towards sex. Not in Russia, not in Europe and certainly not in mainstream America.

Glorious long-haired dagger-caring blokes, sturdy Lhasa business owners, self-assured police officers, random strangers in the street, they all had one thing in common: at some point (usually about thirty seconds into the conversation) they would make an offer: “Nga-nyi garo che?” (“Do you want to make love?”). And when I asked them why—as I giggled at heart and cheered my inner anthropologist on–they would eagerly explain: “Di yago re” (“Because it’s good!”).

It’s all in the paradigm, ladies and gentlemen, it’s all in the paradigm. And rumor has it, local women are not shy either. At least that’s what my fellow Tibetan scholars told me.

But back to me.

Don’t frown, lonely person, I understand. I know what it feels like to be alone and stand next to a beaming couple on the train. I’ve been there. But even in my loneliest moments, soft beaming couples with their interwoven limbs and their tender eyes inspired me, not irritated me. Beauty, as well as obscenity, is in the eyes of the beholder.

I am not telling other people what do with their bodies in public. I don’t care, my free will is enough of a journey. But personally, I want as much love and relaxation as I can get. I suspect that all of us have the need and the right to express ourselves fearlessly. Through words, through touch, through sound and occasionally – through making out in public.

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